By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Dec 06, 2005 at 5:41 AM

T.J. Ford is quick on his feet and quick with a smile, and this season he's driving the Bucks with his shooting, slashing, passing and leadership. It's a welcome role for a 22-year-old guy who's really in is first true NBA season.

At the point for the Milwaukee Bucks, Ford is back from his spinal cord injury and playing better than ever. He's averaging 36 minutes per game, nearly 13 points, four boards and 7.2 assists per game. He's the team's general, and early in the season, he's more than held his own with some of the best players in the league.

After a Wednesday practice and big Tuesday (Nov. 29, 2005) night victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Bucks' starting point guard sat down for a quick Milwaukee Talks with

OMC: Tell us about the big overtime win against the Mavericks.

T.J.: Big win. Especially because we had lost two in a row. You know, you want to protect your home court. And, we dropped one the other night against Detroit, so it was just important not to lose three in a row ... we must win every night, you know, until we establish that respect.

OMC: What's the biggest difference playing without Michael Redd (who was out with an injury for the Dallas game)?

T.J.: It gave everyone added opportunity to play and play freely off each other. Last night we did and had to do a good job. We played like we played the first three games; everybody moved the ball and everybody got their shot attempts.

OMC: What's with the headband? Sometimes it's white, other nights it's black. Some games, you don't wear it. Is there a rhyme or reason?

T.J.: No, man. I just keep it on as long as I can. Sometimes I get frustrated and take it off, but it's just part of the style now.

OMC: Seems like you got a lot of tick-tack fouls called on you when you guarded Allen Iverson.

T.J.: Definitely, I hear you. He didn't even give me the opportunity to play him. I think he came out really aggressive, and once I got one foul he just kept coming. So, he didn't really give me a chance to really defend him and be aggressive on him. That's how it goes some nights. He's a superstar in this league, so some nights calls go his way.

OMC: How do you work through that? Fans are sitting there saying, 'T.J. didn't touch him, no way that's a foul!'

T.J.: It gets frustrating, of course. Especially, you know, when you don't think you fouled a guy. But, at the same time, there's really nothing you can do about it. You get in foul trouble, and you depend on the next guy to come in and produce. That's what Mo (Williams) did. He did a great job defending and going at him with offensive and helping us get the win.

OMC: Do you like Milwaukee?

T.J.: I enjoy being here. I'm used to the weather now, so it's not as bad as it was when I first got here. It's a nice little city; you don't have to go too far to get what you are looking for. I definitely enjoy that.

OMC: What do you remember most about your injury? (On Feb. 24, 2004. Ford collided with Timberwolves forward Mark Madsen and landed on his tailbone jarring his vertebrae and bruising his spinal cord.)

T.J.: I remember what happened against Minnesota in February. It was one of those accidents that happen in the game of sports, that you hope never happens on the court or on the field. It's just something that happened to me. It wasn't anything that was done dirty, just basketball being played and just so happened that on that play I got injured.

During the time out, of course it was difficult not being able to do the basketball things that I would normally been able to do and be a part of the team the way that I wanted to be a part of the team. I had a lot of ups and downs.

OMC: If you could change two things about the NBA, what would they be?

T.J.: I would get rid of that circle where the charging lane is, and that dress code.

OMC: What are your thoughts on the new NBA dress code?

T.J.: It doesn't really affect anybody. You know what ... it's not as bad as many make it. The biggest thing is that they don't let us wear our jewelry. I think that's the biggest thing most of us have a problem with. Because the majority of the guys, the black guys, are the guys who wear it. So, that affected us a little bit. As for the dress, we don't really have a problem with that. You can wear jeans and still be more comfortable. It's more the jewelry part that a lot of guys don't really agree with.

OMC: I'm going to throw out a bunch of names, and give me your thoughts on them.

OMC: Michael Jordan.

T.J.: Greatest player to ever play the game.

OMC: Texas Longhorns.

T.J.: Best school in the country.

OMC: Yao Ming.

T.J.: Yao Ming. Big ... dominant but I think people try to compare him to Shaq and want him to play like Shaq, but that's not his style of play.

OMC: Coach Stotts.

T.J.: Very relaxed and open-minded. Allows guys to play their game and he just tries to get everyone involved.

OMC: Lebron James.

T.J.: Great motivator brings a lot of energy and reminds me of one of my good friends in college.

OMC: Kobe Bryant

T.J.: One of the best players in the NBA right now. Of course he's got great offensive skills, but he's also known for locking people up.

OMC: What's your favorite TV show?

T.J.: I'm watching a lot of HGTV. It can be pretty interesting watching how people are decorating their houses and the new things they are coming up with.

OMC: Video game?

T.J.: NBA Live '06. PlayStation 2.

OMC: What are you listening to; what's on the iPod?

T.J.: 50 Cent. Paul Wall. And pretty much everybody that's out right now from Houston.

OMC: Favorite Milwaukee restaurants?

T.J.: Lately, I've been eating at Moceans.

OMC: How long till the Bucks get back to the NBA Championship?

T.J.: I don't know. I really can't say. I really have no idea. Every year the team changes. This summer we'll have a lot of free agents and the following year we'll have a lot of free agents. So, it depends on what goes on with those guys and who they bring in. So, I can't really say.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.